In 2003, Martin O’Neill managed to steer his Celtic team into the UEFA Cup final in Seville. It was an amazing achievement.
On the day they faced a young Jose Mourinho and his FC Porto side. Every Celtic fan and their granny seemed to travel to Andalucía in the hope of seeing their men in Hoops once again triumph in a European competition.
But unfortunately the Glasgow side couldn’t get one over Mourinho as his side were 3-2 victors over the gruelling 120 minutes of play.
But what happened to those Celts that started that famous match?
I first noticed Douglas during his first stint at Dundee in the late nineties. There was something about him that screamed bricklayer rather than top flight footballer.
He joined Celtic in 2000 for a fee of around £1m and if I recall he also had interest from Rangers at the time. He quickly became O’Neill’s first choice keeper, although some of his howlers (like the one he let in from Mikel Arteta in an Old Firm clash) had Celtic fans questioning his selection.
Douglas fought off the challenge from Swedish international Magnus Hedman to retain his spot for the UEFA Cup run in 2002-03.
His performance in the game against Porto has split a few Celtic with some blaming him for at least one of the goals conceded. That’s a bit unfair in my opinion.
Never a star performer but he’d always give his all for the cause. Won nineteen caps for Scotland.
Left Celtic for Leicester City in 2005 but failed to really cement his place down there and left on loan four times during his three year stint. Ended up back in Dundee in 2008 and was there until 2013.
He would then spend two years with Forfar Athletic turning out 67 times in the league for the Loons.
In October of last year at the age of forty-four, Rab signed up for Arbroath to act as cover for their goalkeeping position.
Unfortunately for Douglas, he was made bankrupt earlier this week.
Born in Reunion, a French Island in the Indian Ocean, Didier Agathe hadn’t even heard of Scotland when he first arrived in Kirkcaldy in 1999 but he settled in well enough scoring a hat trick as a trialist for Raith Rovers.
After a season at Starks Park, Agathe agreed to join Hibs on a two month deal and his performances at Easter Road caught the eye of one Martin O’Neill and he purchased the player for around £35,000.
That happened in the space of year, since he arrived in Scotland. Oh he also starred as a Rangers forward in Robert Duvall’s much maligned film ‘A Shot At Glory’.
Agathe’s pace was blistering and he’d always be seen as a first team regular by O’Neill.
In his debut season the winger would score three times as Celtic marched on to win the treble. His end product was never the best but his pace was always highlighted if defenders got too close to him (hence why Gers left-back Arthur Numan would always play deep against Agathe).
Became a better player when Martin O’Neill decided to go three at the back as it meant he could have freedom on the wing to bomb forward and track back to good effect too. Didier was often a top performer for his side in the European away games as his speed gave his team a useful outlet.
After leaving Celtic Park in 2006, Didier went to Aston Villa to link up again with O’Neill but by this time he was past his prime and he only managed five substitute appearances in the Premier League.
Agathe would go back to his birthplace of Reunion and has started his own football academy.
The central defender had already established himself at AIK and with the Swedish national team before he arrived at Parkhead in late 1998. Made his debut as Celtic crushed Rangers 5-1.
He had previously done well in the midfield for Sweden but really came into his own when O’Neill arrived and was easily the best defender to play on the lefthand side of the back three.
In that era Celtic defenders were meant to be strong and good in the air, Mjallby fitted the bill. He was actually pretty decent with the ball at his feet too. He was nicknamed ‘Dolph’ due to his likeness to Rocky actor Dolph Lungren.
Would spend six years in Glasgow’s east end before joining La Liga side Levante but struggled with his fitness and would retire after a failed stint back at AIK. He represented his country 49 times scoring four goals.
Johan would return to the club as Neil Lennon’s assistant manager and together with his old teammate he helped the club reach Scotland’s summit once again. He would end up at Bolton with Lennon but in February 2016 he became boss of Swedish third tier side Västerås SK, who coincidentally play in green and white hoops!
If memory serves me right, Balde actually didn’t cost Celtic anything as they didn’t have to pay a fee for the big man due to his former side Toulouse hitting financial trouble.
Balde was a rock of a footballer. You know you’ve made it when your fans shout ‘Bobo’s gonna get ye!’ to intimidate opposing forwards.
Signed in 2001, Balde was an ideal defensive signing for O’Neill as he would bully strikers with his strength and combative displays. The centre-back could be trouble in the opposition penalty area as well as creating a wall in his own area.
He certainly played his part in getting the Hoops to Seville playing in all but one of their games in that run. He was sent off against Porto with a silly challenge in injury time and his side failed to cope thereafter.
Would make 160 league appearances for Celtic, scoring ten goals before leaving in 2009. Balde would then have decent spells back in France with Valenciennes and Arles-Avignon. Bobo also represented Guinea 52 times, helping Syli Nationale to qualify for various African Cup of Nations tournaments.
In 2013 he was Guinea’s sports coordinator, where he’d arrange the teams traveling arrangements and the like. Last summer he declared an interest in becoming his nation’s new head coach.
The story goes that Rangers boss Dick Advocaat had a decision to make, should he go for Joos Valgaeren or should he sign Bert Konterman? Well fortunately for Celtic fans he plumped for bomb-scare Bert and Celtic eagerly spent £4m on Joos.
The big Belgian proved to be a very astute signing as he helped Celtic to success in the SPL. He famously scored against Juventus in the Champions League and always looked pretty assured with Mjallby and Balde in Celtic’s backline.
The international defender didn’t have the best of games in Seville, going off injured after failing to clear the ball that lead to a Porto goal.
Towards the end of his time at Parkhead you could tell that injuries had taken a toll. He would quit the game in 2009 after spells at Club Brugge and FC Emmen.
Now when I do these ‘where are they now?’ posts it usually means some digging around to see what certain players are up to, as some just seem to disappear. Joos is one such player. But after countless searches on all available formats, I got a lead on twitter suggesting that he went back to uni to become a qualified surveyor. A search on Linkedin brings up a Joos Valgaeren working for a company called Aquafin in Belgium as a ground acquisition consultant, is that the same man?
Alan came to Celtic after failing to live up to his potential at Aston Villa, after impressing at Bolton Wanderers earlier in his career.
The move was just the tonic Thompson needed and he became a vital part in O’Neill’s team. A creative force at set-pieces, he also had a great cross on him and a keen eye for a pass. Almost the complete opposite of right-sided fullback Agathe.
His impressive European performances for Celtic earned him his first and only England cap in 2004. He was the first ever Celtic player to represent the Three Lions whilst still playing at Parkhead.
The midfielder always seemed to relish the big occasions, particularly against Rangers where he scored two winners in Old Firm derbies.
In the road to Seville, he would produce a well thought-out freekick that went under the Liverpool wall and into the net.
In total he’d bag fifty-one goals in all competitions for Celtic.
He would then have short spells at Hartlepool and Leeds before hanging up his boots and taking a coaching role at Newcastle’s academy. He would then join Neil Lennon’s coaching team back at Celtic and it was Thompson that alerted the club of Fraser Forster, who would also represent England while playing for the Hoops.
His relationship with Lennon would turn sour and he was sacked in the summer of 2012. He has since had coaching posts at Birmingham and Blackpool.
His nephew Sean Longstaff has just joined Kilmarnock on loan from Newcastle.
Starred in a Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund years before captaining Celtic in Seville.
Joined the side in 1997 for £2m and helped stop Rangers ten in a row tilt. He scored an absolute cracker against the old foes in the New Year’s derby and then bettered it with a strike against his former side Motherwell a week later.
Lambert was very much a leader on the pitch and his experience was always appreciated during the Martin O’Neill era. Always composed and classy on the ball Lambert would also win 40 caps for Scotland, helping them to their last World Cup appearance in 1998.
Paul would go on to have a managerial career both in Scotland and in England. He started off at Livingston but stepped aside when he believed that the task had become too difficult. At lowly Wycombe Wanderers he watched on as his side reached the English League Cup semi-final.
Lambert would then spend a year at Colchester United before overseeing two consecutive promotions with Norwich City. He then took on the difficult task of managing Aston Villa but struggled due to the club’s lack of finances. He was sacked in February 2015.
Then in November he took-over at Blackburn Rovers and helped keep them in the Championship before activating his release clause.
This season he’s taken up the reigns at Wolves and is trying to steady the ship there.
Lennon followed O’Neill up north after the two enjoyed a very successful time together at Leicester City. His £5.75m deal was concluded in December 2000 after months of toing and froing between the Hoops and the Foxes.
Lennon grew up in Northern Ireland as a Celtic supporter and soon he’d become a hero amongst the Celtic support with his passionate combative style. His heart on the sleeve performances would often rub opposing fans up the wrong way but it endeared him to his own support.
His midfield duties were more on the defensive side and he was all about getting the ball to better creative talents. His arrival really helped Stiliyan Petrov, who was allowed to venture further forward.
A constant voice within the team, Lennon would always lead by example on the pitch and do his duty for his teammates.
Ended his Celtic playing career with eleven trophies including five league titles. Short stays at Nottingham Forest and Wycombe followed before his retirement in 2008.
After retiring from playing, Neil’s first coaching job was back at Celtic working under Gordon Strachan. He was kept on by Tony Mowbray, who he’d replace in early 2010. Initially his appointment was just seen as being a stop gap but the young coach impressed and he got the gig full-time.
He initially struggled to get the better of Gers manager Walter Smith but once Smith had left Ibrox Lennon would oversee his side winning three league championships in a row. Neil would also do well in Europe, guiding his players to a famous Champions League win over the mighty Barcelona and a place in the knock-out stages.
He would resign from the role in 2014 and constantly seemed to suffer from abuse and threats from other team’s fans.
His next job took him to Bolton, where he managed to save them from relegation. But the club’s dreadful finances constantly hampered him and he left the Trotters in March last year, with the club staring relegation in the face.
This summer he tried to return to Celtic Park once again but missed out on the gaffers role to Brendan Rodgers. Lennon was then announced as the new Hibs boss and they currently top the Scottish Championship.
Affectionately known as Stan by those that love Celtic, Petrov was actually the best signing from the doomed John Barnes/Kenny Dalglish era.
The Bulgarian international (105 caps/ 8 goals) struggled in Glasgow originally both on and off the pitch. Off the pitch he decided to work in a friend’s burger van in a bid to understand the Glaswegian dialect better. On it, he couldn’t really find his ideal position.
Under O’Neill, Petrov was pushed forward and asked to be more creative as he had Lennon and Lambert playing beside him. He would often perfect his runs into the box and finish off chances. In total he’d bag 65 goals in 312 appearances for the Scottish giants.
Would often be criticised for diving while playing up here but his energetic style was also praised by fellow pros.
In the 2002-03 campaign that involved the UEFA Cup run, Petrov would play 50 times and get fourteen goals to his name.
In 2006 he was reunited with Martin O’Neill after Aston Villa agreed to pay £6.5m for his services. He departed Glasgow with many medals under his arm and a life long mutual love between him and the Celtic fans.
At Villa, Stiliyan would be a regular star performer and he’d also become the club’s captain.
In May 2013 it was announced that Petrov was retiring from football after being diagnosed with having leukaemia, an illness he’d eventually beat. In September of that year 60,000 fans would turn up at Celtic Park for a charity game in honour of the Bulgarian and many an old face that played with the midfielder returned to help out.
After a brief stint as a coach, Stan tried to resurrect his playing career last summer at Villa but wasn’t offered a contract after training with the first team during preseason.
This week he backed the Hoops to win back to back trebles with Rodgers in charge.
Celtic paid Chelsea £6m to sign Chris Sutton and that remains a record fee paid out by the Glasgow club.
After a successful spell with Blackburn Rovers, helping them win the Premier League title in 1995, Sutton struggled in his one year in London.
O’Neill always liked signing players that had a point to prove and boy did Chris prove his point at Celtic Park.
The ideal big striker, who would be a perfect foil for a goalscoring hitman, he formed a massively successful partnership with Henrik Larsson.
He was terrific in the air and could even fill in as a centre-back if required, he also hd the versatility to play in the heart of midfield. Would often bully defenders and outmuscle them, he was a player that fans either loved or loved to hate.
Infamously accused Dunfermline players of lying down at Ibrox to help the Govan side to secure the league title on the last day. He has never been one to shy away from giving his opinion.
In that run to Seville, he’d score four goals in twelve European outings including a thunderous near post header against his former side Blackburn.
His best scoring season came in 2003-04, where the Englishman scored twenty times as Celtic went on to win the league and cup double.
Left Celtic in early 2006 and spent six unsuccessful months with Birmingham City. Then moved across the city to join Villa and retired due to vision problems suffered during a game against Man United. He would make a surprise cameo appearance for non-league side Wroxham playing alongside his son in 2012.
After a disappointing year managing Lincoln City, Sutton is now a pundit for BT and the BBC. He’s well known for his honest opinions which ruffle a few feathers to say the least.
His first meaningful contribution to Scottish football was to give the ball away to Chic Charnley, who would go on to score a winner for Hibs against Larsson’s Celtic team.
Who would have thought that the Swedish international would go on to become the greatest foreign player to ever play for the club?
But that’s exactly what happened as he scored goal after goal. In that debut season he helped the Hoops stop Rangers in their recording breaking ten in a row attempt. That wouldn’t be the last time he’d break the hearts of the bluenoses, in total the hitman would hit the net eleven times against his sides main rivals.
Larsson would break his leg in 1999 and many questioned whether he’d ever be the same, he was in fact better once he returned to full fitness. A lethal predator in and around the penalty area. He possessed good speed, a terrific leap and strength to hold his own.
The forward was just as much of a threat in Europe as he was in domestic competitions. No Celtic player from any era bettered his European tally of 35 goals. During the famous 2002-03 European campaign Larsson scored twelve strikes in his twelve games. That included a fantastic brace in the final against Porto.
Probably the last player of world class ability to play in Scotland. After seven seasons (he’d reject various big moves) Celtic’s magnificent seven ended his tenure at Parkhead playing 313 times and scoring a whopping 242 goals. He also won the prestigious gold boot award while playing for the Hoops.
After Celtic, Larsson joined Spanish cracks Barcelona and he’d help them to a Champions League title in 2006. After two seasons at the Camp Nou, Henrik returned to Sweden to play for his former side Helsingborgs IF. Larsson would join Man United in a short-term loan deal and Sir Alex Ferguson would say that he wished he’d signed him sooner!
He’d end his career in 2013 playing for his first side Högaborgs BK once again.
Has had various managerial jobs in his homeland, most recently with Helsingborgs IF where he managed his son Jordan. He departed in November after failing to keep his side in the Allsvenskan and when his own supporters turned on him and his son.
Not just a legend at Parkhead, he’s also a Swedish legend who won 106 caps and scoring 37 times.
Now what ever happened to Jose Mourinho?
Posted on January 18th, 2017 by scott
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